LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Kentuckians in a handful of its 120 counties will head to the polls Tuesday to elect three new members of the General Assembly. The three special elections were created by the retirement of one legislator and the deaths of two others.
The special elections are also giving some Kentuckians a look at new voting rules that Gov. Andy Beshear signed into law earlier this year. Those rules allowed three days of early voting, which took place Oct. 28-30, and the ability to request an absentee ballot via a state website.
All three elections Tuesday will take place in districts that previously sent Republicans to Frankfort. But as of the most recent finance reports, Democrats hold fundraising advantages in two of the three races. Here’s a rundown of each race:
Vacant following the death of Tom Buford in July, Senate District 22 covers Garrard, Jessamine, Mercer and Washington counties, along with a portion of western Fayette County. There are nearly 10,000 more registered Republicans than Democrats in the district, which saw both Donald Trump and Matt Bevin win the four full counties inside of it.
Helen Bukulmez is the Democrat in the race, but she is running as a “constitutional conservative," has declared herself pro-life, and touts a high rating from the National Rifle Association. An attorney and professor at NKU Chase College of Law, Bukulmez was born in Turkey and came to Kentucky as a young woman. She attended the University of Kentucky and now works as an immigration lawyer.
Republican Donald Douglas is the medical director at Tony Delk IMAC Regeneration Center in Lexington. The 14th of 16 children, Douglas “was born and raised in a log cabin outside of Owensboro,” according to his website. He attended UK and has gone on to a 40-plus year career in medicine. Like Bukulmez, Douglas is pro-life and pro-gun. He has declared himself against the teaching of Critical Race Theory, which is not taught in Kentucky’s public schools, and in favor of efforts to address the pandemic “without infringing on our freedoms.”
There is also an independent candidate running for the seat. Sindicat Dunn is a member of the Burgin City Council who owns Dunn’s Bar-B-Q in Harrodsburg.
As of Oct. 20, Douglas had raised $36,710.00 and Bukulmez $42,370.00. Dunn did not report any fundraising.
After a long battle with illness, Rep. Bam Carney died last July, leaving his seat empty. The 51st district covers the entirety of Taylor and Adair Counties, where Republicans outnumber Democrats two to one and where voters chose Trump over Biden by a four to one margin.
Republican Michael “Sarge” Pollock is an insurance agent in Campbellsville who is making his first forway into elected politics. On his campaign Facebook page, he says he wants to take his “common sense conservative message” to Frankfort. In a video, he said he wants to fight COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
“I want us to make sure these mandates that are coming down from Frankfort and Washington, D.C., that we have the right to choose whether we want to get vaccinated or not get vaccinated,” he said.
Democrat Edwin “Eddie” Rogers has experience winning elections in the area. He previously served as judge-executive of Taylor County, retiring in 2019. He is campaigning on his record in that seat, touting his work lowering unemployment, stimulating the economy, and bringing millions in infrastructure dollars to Taylor County.
Timothy Shafer is running as an independent. On his website, he writes that he has “conservative Republican values” without the label and declares his opposition to mask and COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
As of Oct. 20, Pollock had outraised Rogers $25,404.00 to $13,945.00. Shafer has not reported any money.
Following the August resignation of former Rep. Robert Goforth, who faced criminal charges related to an alleged attack on his wife, the 89th House district is now vacant. The district covers all of Jackson County and part of Laurel and Madison counties. Republicans outnumber Democrats by more than two to one in the district.
Republican Timmy Truett is the principal at McKee Elementary School in Jackson County and owner of Truett Pumpkin Patch. On his Facebook page, he writes that he will focus on education and economic development in Frankfort.
Democrat Mae Suramek is a community organizer who owns two restaurants in Berea and is the former executive director of the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center. Among the policy priorities listed on her website are “safe and affordable housing,” worker’s rights, and the protection of natural resources.
Suramek had raised $44,591.00 as of Oct. 20 and Truett $13,135.00.